Saturday, May 8:  My Birthday!

Today I woke up with a slow start, but then remembered that it was my birthday! Woohoo! I waited for my dad to get out of the shower, so that we could all open presents. Soon everybody was up and ready. I opened my brother’s first, on my bed. It was a ceramic cow, only was cartoony and very cool. He also gave me a Bounty bar. He said he got the cow in San Gimangano, and the bar in the internet cafe yesterday, because he remembered that I had a craving for coconut. Then I opened mom’s, a wooden decoration that was a spiral made up of wood, and on one side was painted like a moon, and the other a sun. It was flat now, because we didn’t want to bother twirling it around and then struggling to put it back before the end of the trip. The other thing was the awesome rock from yesterday. I thanked her, and then it was Dad’s turn. The first thing was a brown leather wallet, which was the first real wallet I ever owned (I used to use a Quantas Airlines yellow one that I scribbled on when I was five!). Next he gave me 20 Euro, for birthday money, which was very generous. Then he gave me the best and final thing, a promise that I will get real wooden door beads when I get home! We weren’t going to pack it, duh. I thanked everyone many times, and then we got ready to go. I loved all of my presents, and couldn’t decide which was the best, and I was very grateful. We all got dressed then, and walked downstairs for breakfast. I got exactly the same thing, except minus the kiwi. After that we walked back upstairs.

Today, Saturday, was market day in Sarlat, and was right outside! We all walked out, and looked around. It started around here, with a few flowers, and became more packed with merchants as we drew nearer to the main square, where we were looking for a dinner spot last night. On the way my mom bought some cold-eeze, just in case anyone caught a cold. Then we stopped in a shop, where my mom spotted the little dogs of metal that you rest your silverware on, just like at the Figeac! They were exactly the same, so she bought twelve to go with her table settings. While she payed, the woman at the counter said that her dad owned a shop in Saint Emillion, right next to the Figeac (where Marie-France probably bought them), and he made them there and sold some to this shop, and you couldn’t find them anywhere else. My mom was amazed that the first shop we strolled into just happened to have them. Then we plunged right into market. We didn’t go crazy and buy as much food as possible, like in Tuscany, but only bought a few nuts. Some merchants sold food, others cloths and toys, and some even sold Foie Gras (duck liver)! We strolled along, looking at the food, and then ended up near the Pinnochio cafe, near the square that we figured out is called, “May 8 Square”! My birthday! It was called this because of VE (Victory in Europe) Day, which was on May 8.

That was when WW2 ended in Europe. My dad asked a man if there would be a ceremony here today, and he said yes, at noon. It was 11:30 now, so we decided to go to the internet cafe for a bit. I came along, and there tried to get an E-Mail address at Yahoo, but if I said I was twelve my dad had to get his own address, which he didn’t want to do, and if I said I was 35, they assumed I had a credit card, which I didn’t. I left with no luck when everybody was leaving to go back to the square. We eventually reached there to see a bunch of veterans holding flags and a band was playing. It was a little boring, and in French, so we left. Everyone was hungry for lunch, so Mom went off into market to get some peleau, a seafood dish, while Dad, Robert, and I stopped in a deli to get a sandwich. Robert and I both split a tuna sandwich and a brownie. We thanked the man, and walked back home to eat it. The tuna was very delicious, with nice, soft bread, and the brownie was good and moist. Then my mom came with her food, and started to eat it. After a while it was so salty she couldn’t finish it, and was sick. Louie, Nelly, and Nick were coming back today to show us around again, so we waited on the curb for them. Then my dad got a phone call from the lobby from them, and they said that they’d be late. We walked back upstairs, and I did some homework until we got a call from the desk that said we had visitors. We walked down, and there they were. We all said hello to the three of them and briefly talked. Louie took us to his van, which would hold all 7 of us. We piled in, and drove off.

The first stop was Castelnaud, which was a medieval castle in a town near the Dordogne river. We drove past the scenic countryside, and arrived. We parked in a dusty lot, and got out to look around, and there it was! It was very big, and strategically located on a big cliff. We walked on over, and went to the ticket booth and bought some to go inside. We then moved on, and entered through the small door. The first floor was a movie in French showing a panorama of the castle. I had fun swinging on a big rope that disappeared into the ceiling. After we watched the movie, we went up into the 2nd floor of the tower, where it was like a mini-museum, and I saw the rope again. I pulled it up and down, and it spooked the people on the floor below us, and it was funny. Then we went up to the top floor, with lots of guns. After that we went outside and looked out on the Dordogne river, and Nick said that he was going to kayak a very very long way with it with his brother this summer. Then we walked inside again, in a new room, with another movie. This one was very cheesy and was boring, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. On the side of the room there was chain mail on display, and it said it was 16 pounds! We were then led into a room with a porch that was very high up, and only made of wood. My mom freaked out, but everybody else just looked out. The next room led out to the ramparts, where you walked in a semicircle around and taking you back in, but on another side. There wasn’t much in the next few rooms, except for a movie on the Trebuchet, a very powerful catapult. It was pretty cool.

When we came to one room, there was a free game you could play, where you lead a dude through a castle in search of his long-lost friend. First my brother played and he lost, but with Nick and I’s help, we won. It gave you a password to tell to the woman at the front desk, and she’ll give you a “surprise”. We then passed through the door and back in the room with the chain mail, so we exited down to a courtyard down below. Nothing here either, so we headed on outside, on the side we didn’t see. There was a huge catapult, and it was very realistic. While my mom went to the bathroom, we played in the rocks, until we got ready to go. My brother wanted to give the password, so he came back with a poster in hand. We all got back in the van, and we drove off. Next we were going to Geyac, a small town on the water with an amazing cliffside. We just came here to be here, so we walked around through the suddenly tropical plants around us, making a loop back to the car. On the way back, I found a dead lizard, and decided to give it a proper water burial, by tying his body to a leaf raft with flowers (sniff, oh boo hoo). It happened to land the right side up when we through it, and it floated down the river. Overcome with emotion (not), we got back in the car. Louie showed us some buttons on his car that were built there by a joke by the car company that said “Front Machine Guns” and “Ejector seat”! Though, they didn’t do anything in real life.

After that we drove to the next town, Domme. Louie owns a fixer-upper house there, and he let us inside. He gave us some bread and toast, and showed us around. The inside still needed work, but the garden was just perfect, with a beautiful view. Nick, Robert and I went walking around to the center of town, where a big boxer sat with droopy lips, so I dubbed thee, sugarlips. He was an awesome dog. We then walked back and met up with everybody else, so we could explore more. Domme was a quiet town with lots of little shops, and I liked it. We were led to the cliffside, where we looked out on the view of the farms below us. It was a splendid view, and I liked it a lot, until I was distracted. There was a machine that had a webcam on it, so you could look at yourself and send an e-mail to somebody. I jumped in front of the camera a lot, but then we moved on home. Back at the house, my brother carved a stick with a pocketknife, and then we all got back in the car and said goodbye to Domme. Nelly and company were coming to dinner with us, on occasion of my birthday, and we were eating in the hotel. We got tables reserved on the top part of the restaurant, on a little balcony overlooking the rest of the restaurant. When we got back to the hotel, we got out and sat in our seats.

I decided to try new things tonight, so I ordered duck filet as a starter, fish and potatoes for a main course, and ice cream for desert. Everyone got a starter for there starter (I know it’s weird) no matter what you ordered. It was some sort of red bread, and was very good for how weird it looked. Nick and Nelly were hesitant to tell us what it was after we ate it, and they said it was pig blood! I can’t believe I ate a pig’s blood (I am count dracula)! Then came my filet, and it was very good, but everyone thought I was crazy when I said it tasted like fish. After that came the main course, my fish. I usually don’t like fish, but it was actually very good, and the potatoes were different. It was a long time to desert, so Nick taught us how to make a whistling sound with our water glass and it was neat. Suddenly, the lights turned out, and our waiter came out with a cake! Everyone sang “Happy Birthday,” and I managed to blow out all of the candles, and there were 12. Then the waiter took it away and everybody clapped. Soon it came back in slices for everybody. I took my bite, and it was delicious! It was rich chocolate, and I loved it. Then, our friends suddenly presented two gifts! One was for me, and one was an early one for Robert. Mine was a very awesome model catapult that you put together, and actually worked! My brother got a model of Castelnaud in a rock. We thanked them many times, and then went upstairs. They grabbed their belongings, and said goodbye. I was really tired, so I plopped down on the bed and fell asleep.

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Photo 263  A DESERTED Castle (can you believe it?)
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Photo 264  Castelnaud
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Photo 265  Our Room is up in the Ramparts
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Photo 266  A Rainy Market Day in Sarlat